What Does it Mean When a Detective Calls You?
It is not uncommon to receive a call only for the caller to introduce themselves as a detective and claim they “just want to talk” to you. Whether or not you were expecting it, the experience can be scary, and you may not know what to do or say.
What Does it Mean When a Detective Calls You?
In most cases, a detective will call you if:
- You are a witness to a crime
- You are a suspect of a crime under investigation
After the introduction, the detective may ask you if you would be willing to answer some questions or come into the station and answer some questions. A good rule of thumb is to never accept the detective’s request to question you, even when you are 100% sure that you have not committed any crime.
When investigating a case, the suspect is typically the last person contacted by a detective. The detective who calls you or shows up at your home/place of work will appear to be super nice and understanding. However, the main focus of the police, at this point, is to nail the crime on somebody and then forward his/her findings to the district attorney for prosecution.
Due to these facts, you want to be very careful with what you say. Ideally, you should say “let me contact my lawyer and have them get back to you.”
Exercise Your Right to Remain Silent
Most people think that cooperating with a police officer will show that they don’t have anything to hide. However, talking to detectives can be the beginning of your troubles because the police officer can and will use your words against you. Remember, detectives have one task alone, get the bad guy at all costs.
When contacted by a detective, even when you do not know the reason for their call, the best thing to do is invoke your:
- 4th amendment right against unlawful search or seizure
- 5th amendment right to remain silent
- 6th amendment right to legal representation
Most people think that invoking their rights implies guilt, but it does not.
By invoking your rights, you protect yourself from unintentional self-incrimination. Staying silent also means that your lawyer will have more room to build a defense if you are charged with a crime because there will be no limitations resulting from statements you made to the detectives.
Be Wary of All Calls Concerning a Criminal Case
Detectives have no legal obligation to be truthful to a person they are investigating. This means they can legally lie or use someone close to you, such as your spouse or any other family members, to get you talking.
If you are aware of an investigation that could point to you allegedly committing a crime, you should be wary of phone calls from people close to you seeking to have you talk about the alleged offense with them. Sometimes detectives will use people close to you as pawns to get you to talk.
For example, you could be under investigation for what is criminal sexual conduct 1st degree, which has led to your marriage or relationship deterioration. A private investigator could use your ex-partner to get you talking by making them promise to get back with you if you tell them the truth. Oftentimes, the police will record a phone call between you and an unexpected person the police have managed to coax into calling you and ask you questions in an effort to incriminate you (see what is a one-party consent call).
While these tactics may have some aspects of entrapment, they are still admissible in court. When you are under investigation, the general rule is not to share details about your case with anyone except your criminal defense lawyer.
They May Sound Friendly, but DO NOT Fall for the Trap
When the police contact you, they may say something like, “you are not under arrest; we just want to talk,” or “we just need you to clear the air about something.” THESE ARE FLAT OUT LIES!
Detectives do not contact people for a “friendly talk” or “to clear something up,” at least not when they introduce themselves as a detective.
When a detective calls, they have only one goal, to validate their suspicion. In most cases, the police will call when they have some evidence pointing at you. They can try to be friendly and speak in a non-interrogative language, but their talk is only aimed at one thing, to try and achieve a slipping of the tongue that could implicate you and use it, alongside other evidence, in their possession to build their case.
What if I am just a Witness?
When a detective calls, you may be convinced that the detective wants to speak to you only as a witness to a crime. However, until you can rule out the possibility of the detective calling you as a witness, you must tell them that you can only talk with a criminal defense lawyer at your side.
You may feel like insisting on a lawyer can make you look guilty, but this is the furthest from the truth. It in fact makes you look like someone who knows his constitutional rights. Failure to talk to a detective cannot be used against you, but the statement you make without a lawyer can.
Cases are won or lost on evidence, not appearances, and the court will never hear that you refused to talk to the police and insisted on having a lawyer. Having legal representation ensures that your rights are protected and helps protect you from underhand techniques that the police could use to incriminate you.
What if I Choose to Speak?
There are some circumstances where you may feel you could talk to a detective, and it is perfectly fine. Even then, it is important to be cautious, know your rights, and understand that the police do not have your best interest at heart. One important right to know is your right to terminate an interview with police officers at any point, for whatever reason.
For example, you could be participating in a voluntary interview over the phone, but then you start feeling uncomfortable with the line of questioning during the conversation. In such a case, you are free to terminate the conversation.
Does it Mean I Can Dodge the Police?
There is a big difference between choosing not to talk to a detective and dodging them. If a detective contacts you via phone, you don’t just hang up. You can answer basic questions that can help confirm your identity, but that is it.
Once they get to probative questions, like where you were on a given date, tell them politely that your lawyer will call them shortly. Having your lawyer contact them will keep them from contacting you directly and only contact your lawyer moving forward.
Dodging law enforcement officers can only serve in escalating the issue. For instance, if the investigating officer notices that you are avoiding answering their call or the door, and they believe you are doing this on purpose, they will seek a warrant to arrest you, which can get you in more trouble.
What if a Detective Instructs Me to go to the Police Station?
A detective may call to let you know that you are to meet them at the police station to answer some questions. If this happens, do not ignore the call, however do not go without calling a lawyer first.
When you call a lawyer and tell them that you want to seek legal counsel because a detective called you, if the lawyer says “call me back when/if you are charged,” then you know you called a lawyer who does not routinely handle sex crime charges/cases.
If, for some reason, you find yourself going to the police station, bring a lawyer. A lawyer will go with you into the interrogation room or your video interview session to mitigate circumstances, protect your rights, and help you answer questions in a way that won’t implicate you. Having your lawyer present during an interrogation session can mean the difference between returning home that night or being placed under arrest.
When Do Miranda Rights Apply?
There is a commonly held misconception that your words to the police can not be used against you or incriminate you if the officer has not read you your Miranda rights first. That is not always true!
Miranda rights inform an accused person of their rights while in custody, including their right to remain silent, right to an attorney, and the fact that what they say can be used against you in court.
Miranda rights only address a confession’s admissibility, but the things you say can be used as probable cause to make an arrest. A person necessitates being read their Miranda rights if:
● You are in Custody
You are “in custody” if you are in a position where you cannot leave at your discretion. For example, when an officer arrests you and puts you in handcuffs or you go willingly to a police station and the officer says that you can’t leave the room.
The law requires the police to read you your Miranda Rights before any interrogation. “Interrogation” means questioning in a criminal investigation that may elicit a self-incriminating response from an individual and includes a law enforcement official’s words or actions that the police official should know are reasonably likely to elicit a self-incriminating response from the individual (MCL 763.7).
A defense attorney can use failure to read Miranda Rights to an accused person as a reason to seek dismissal of statements made, irrespective of how implicating they could be.
Call Attorney Nicole Blank Becker as Soon as You are Contacted by a Detective
If you have a reason to believe detectives may contact you as their prime suspect, contact an attorney immediately. If a detective leaves contact information at your doorstep requiring you to call back; even then, it is best to contact an attorney right away.
If you live in Michigan, or anywhere in the United States, and you have been accused of or investigated for a sex crime, attorney Nicole Blank Becker, of Blank Law, PC, is the lawyer to cal immediately.
Nicole has over two decades of experience practicing law. She has been on both sides, as the Chief of the Sex Unit when she was a prosecututing attorney and defending those falsely accused of CSC as a defense attorney. This means Nicole is familiar with both sides of the law and will use her knowledge and experience when fighting for you. Nicole offers her clients the best legal counsel possible and is committed to fighting aggressively for each and every one of them.
Nicole understands that a criminal accusation is just that, an accusation. That people are falsely accused of crimes they did not commit all the time. Nicole will take the time to build a solid attorney-client relationship with you in order to ensure that you feel free to share any and all of the details of your case.
Do not let a detective’s call be the reason you lose your freedom. Contact attorney Nicole Blank Becker at (248) 515-6583 or reach her online for a free consultation and let her help you deal with the detectives/police.